It came out if the forest like a thingy coming out of the undergrowth with all its doodahs resplendent in the morning, thingamabobs glistening.
‘Oh, my gods,’ the guard on the wall screamed. ‘It’s a bloody wossname! It’s coming this way. Now!’
The captain of the guard, buckling his breastplate as he ran, clambered up the ladder to the ramparts. ‘That’s not a wossname,’ he said to the guard. ‘That’s a bloody wossit.’
‘A… a…’ The terrified guard could not speak.
‘Yes, look.’ the captain pointed with a shaking hand, realising he’d left his chain mail leggings back in Dellia’s room. Not that it mattered, not against a wossit. ‘Look at the doodahs around its whatchamacallits.’
The guard fell to his knees, wondering which of the nineteen most holy gods was the best one to pray to at times like this.
The captain, with not a moment to lose, sent another of the guards to fetch the Lord. A wossname he could have dealt with himself, but a wossit was a different matter.
He risked a glace between the crenulations. The wossit was trampling the village to kindling. It had a couple of half-masticated peasants in its jaws. It tore another peasant in half with a free claw on its third arm and examined the two parts. It beat its leather wings and held the demi-peasant out on a razor sharp claw, breathing fire over the part corpse until it blackened and crackled. The wossit chewed the half peasant as it gazed up at the castle reflectively.
The captain of the guard swallowed. It had not been a good life and it had not been as long as he’d hoped, but it was the only life he’d ever have, and it looked like today would be the last day of it.
‘It’s a wossit.’ the Lord came up to the captain. ‘Is there nothing we can do?’
The captain shook his head. ‘No,’ was all he said.
‘We should go down fighting,’ the Lord drew his jewel-encrusted sword.
The captain nodded again without enthusiasm and drew his own battered sword. Neither sword was anywhere near as long as the wossit’s seven claws on each of its five arms, let alone the longer fighting claws on all of its feet. The captain didn’t think they’d even get close enough through the breath of fire to use their swords, but it felt good to have something in his hands, although he wished he was holding Dellia instead. He’d always hoped to die in bed. Dellia was a big girl – that would have been the best way to go.
The wossit drew nearer to the castle, carelessly trampling the village. Peasants were fleeing in to the forest, screaming. The wossit picked up the occasional runner, cooking them in its hot flaming breath and tossing them down its throat.
This was the end.
There was a roar from the forest and the crack of trees crashing to the ground. The wossit turned.
It’s a bloody wossname!’ the captain called, almost crying in relief.
‘The only known predator of the wossit,’ the Lord said, relief evident in his voice.
The wossit turned to face the new threat as the wossname came from the forest towards it.
The wossit turned once more and ran for the hills, with the wossname giving chase. The captain and the Lord stood on the battlements watching the creatures until they were out of sight.
They stood together in silence for a moment.
‘I think I need to change my armour,’ the Lord said, leaving the battlements. He paused, turned and said. ‘You’d best check that that inn-keeper’s daughter is all right. Dellia, is it?’
The captain saluted. ‘Yes, sir.’
‘Carry on, then captain.’